World Championship Poker 2 featuring Howard Lederer Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

PlayStation 2
Release date:
Nov. 2, 2005
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World Championship Poker 2 featuring Howard Lederer

The poker RPG project is a few cards short of a Full House.

Review by Tom Keller (Email)
November 29th 2005

Poker, in its present form, has been around for over 150 years and its creation draw inspiration from Persia, The Renaissance Period, and the English game of Brag. What's puzzling, however, is what took so long for there to be a wave of interest that seeming hasn't hit its peak yet. Perhaps it's the ease with which it's played, despite the numerous strategic elements that come to play.

Poker is a game that is easy to learn and very difficult to master and you can be sure that you'll be riding high and can come crashing to a screeching halt within minutes of each other. There are many nuances to learn and the most difficult in these lies in dispelling with superstition and hope and playing the odds. It can be argued that the internet has drawn many people together who would never have known each other and do so now on a virtual level and perhaps poker is an excellent vehicle for people to interact in this manner.

WCP2 allows you to design a character and embark upon a career path mode wherein you start out at the local level in your buddy's basement and try to get together enough cash to start entering the larger tournaments. Over time, if you should see fit, you can spend your money on various upgrades to your residence and spruce it up to attract high rollers to your neck of the woods. The game presents itself as being modeled after traditional RPG's and such and, as far as poker goes, it does try to make things interesting but is severely limited in its capacity to do so. It's a decent first try, but there needs to be more to it than what's been dealt here.

Perhaps a story driven career path, or multiple paths, would've been interesting. Debts, relationships, desperation, and such could've made for some very interesting must win scenarios or how far one can go into the depths of the abyss with each loss. Alas, within WCP2, you are basically trying to qualify for larger tournaments throughout and the process can quickly become tedious for a few reasons. The first being that you have to finish the game entirely, or finish a specific goal before you're actually able to save your progress. This might not be that terrible if you're goal was reasonable at all times.

If you've played poker at all, especially 5 Card Draw, you know that it can take a very long time to win any kind of substantial money and the thought of not being able to save a game in the middle of the game without losing all the money that you've already earned is just ludicrous. In the year 2005, you should be able to save any game, anywhere, particularly a game of this nature that isn't action driven. There's no excuse for making someone pause their PS2 for hours on end because they can't save a game of poker.

The second reason for the tedious factor (and I'm certainly not of the "instant gratification" variety), is that it takes a very, very long time to build your initial funds of $1000.00 to any level worth discussing. With that being on the table, however, it must also be said that the AI of the title is outstanding and your computer opponent can be somewhat unpredictable.

The career mode is hard and that's a much better thing than dealing with a moronic AI. You can develop "skill points" as you progress that allow your character to ascertain hand strengths, see bluffs, or improve your own poker face. There are also many different poker variations present here, Texas Hold 'Em, Omaha, 5 Card Stud, and eleven others which you will encounter which can be a good and bad thing. If you don't like playing 5 Card Draw, for example, it's too bad since it's required of you in order to advance. At the very least, you'll learn many different variations of poker along the way.

The online aspect of this game is where you really can't go wrong, particularly for its low price point ($19.99). WCP2 is compatible with PSP edition of the game (the first released title to do so) as well as Sony's Eye Toy, which allows you to see your opponent's face(s). Of course, the likelihood that you're going to encounter 5 other players with an Eye Toy is about as likely as Angelina Jolie being your opponent, but hey, you never know.

WCP2 has serviceable graphics and a decent narrator along the way, but these elements are something that doesn't seem all that important unless they happen to annoy you - which they won't in this title. Sure, you won't be in awe from the experience but that's probably something you're not expecting here anyway. All in all, WCP2 is a very serviceable sequel and the price is right. On a console, you won't find much better poker than this.

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